Collaborative or consultative selling.  What’s the difference?  Aren’t they interchangeable terms? Not really, a collaborative approach is a step beyond traditional consultative selling.  And an opportunity to sell more WITH your buyers.

Consultative selling is a term in use around the globe.  And it is effective – a selling methodology and mindset where the seller, acting as a trusted advisor, assists the buyer in identifying needs and offering solutions within their relationship.  (from the glossary at salesopedia)  And we know consultative selling works – we’ve trained consultative selling skills for over a decade achieving 5-25% increases in sales in 60 days or less!  But is it enough today?  Are the buyers in today’s economy and demographics wanting  more?  I think yes.  They want to be a part of the process AND solution.  Selling collaboratively allows them to do that.

The definition of collaboration is:  Noun:  The act of working jointly.  Collaborative selling is working with your buyers in a joint process to identify needs, evaluate how your solution benefits them and then navigate through the decision making process.  It’s a side-by-side process instead of a head-on process.

This quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes sums it up:

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up. 

puzzle-team1Who knows how much more our buyer can add to the depth of how they use our product/service?  They may have ideas for application, usage and implementation that we had never thought of!  Our buyers are much more informed than they ever were with so much information accessible in a moment.  They have some sort of background, experience or information to contribute to the discussion on most topics.  And when we can collaborate WITH them and jointly discover needs, wants, challenges and solutions to help them, we build a deeper relationship and a more loyal customer.

Who wants to be “told” or “pitched” information?  Not many people, though I may be biased by the fact I live with teens 🙂   Most people want to be next to you  exploring a topic and adding their input to the discussion.  Does this mean we don’t need to be the experts?  Not at all!  It means that we need to be more of an expert and prepared to:

  1. Ask questions that engage and involve
  2. Allow time for more discussion
  3. Explore with them  how what we offer will work for them
  4. Adapt our communication to their style (including verbal style, decision making style and level of involvement style)
  5. Share expertise and information without sales pressure

What’s the difference between collaborative selling and consultative selling?   A mindset of partnership and joint efforts.

More to come on this topic… In the meantime,  I want to collaborate with you and jointly explore these differences.  What is your take on collaboration versus consultation?

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